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Ray Stoner

January 3, 2005

My venture into rocketry started at a young age when I was in the cub/boy scouts. I remember looking in the back of the Boy's Life magazine and drooling over the rockets I saw there. I got catalogs and continued my drooling, but for some reason I never got a rocket to build. Either my parents decided that I was too young, or they didn't have the money to do it. My favorites at the time were the mosquito and the SR-71. The mosquito appealed to me just for the altitude it could get, advertised at around 1000 feet. The SR-71 was just damn cool. I realize now that I would have had to have a lot of mosquito's if I planned to launch more than a couple of times.
Fast forward 20 years. I was walking through a store called Factory to You looking for Christmas gifts for the kids and saw a Quest ready to fly kit call the "Whiplash," it had everything I thought I needed to launch a rocket, and I decided to buy if for my son, Sean. As we went through the gifts that year, we realized that we had gotten way too many gifts for my son and that my step-daughter would be receiving less gifts, so to keep things fair, we put the rocket and some other gifts away to give him on his birthday. Christmas came and went, and his birthday rolled around, so we gave him the rocket and the other gifts. I guess some of the other gifts dazzled him and he kind of forgot about the rocket, so we didn't prep it and launch until the following March (his birthday is in June). The rocket came with 3 quest "A" motors. We had a nice warm day in March to fly the rocket and we did, two of the ignitions were successful and the rocket went about 200 feet into the air, we all loved it. Of course, it wasn't long till bigger motors were purchased and during that purchase at B&B hobbies I grabbed a flyer for SPARC. I saw there would be a launch soon and decided to attend. That launch got cancelled due to high wind. I had caught the rocket bug again. We flew Sean's whiplash a number of times on ever bigger motors, and decided that a "C" motor in the field where we were was too big. I stayed home from work one day, just to relax and decided to go and buy a rocket, so I went down to B&B and bought a StormCaster Kit. I assembled it following the instructions and spent hours painting it. I set it out on the deck to take a photo, and the wind promptly blew it to the ground. One of the fins broke loose. I guess my construction techniques weren't that good. I finally made it to the May launch and had a "blast" and decided that I would go whenever I could. That was the beginning of the end. I was dazzled by the big rockets that were launching and wanted to play in this hobby more. It wasn't long before I had an Aerotech kit (an Aereaux) and a reloadable motor (29/40-120). I kept attending launches and decided that it would be good if I learned more about building these big rockets. I came across a carpet tube at work one day, and grabbed it. I sent Marty an email and ask him if he would like it, because it would be just too big for the stuff I wanted to do at that time, he suggested we build a project together and Joseph was born. I learned a lot during the building of Joseph, and even more following the unsuccessful flight. I am now firmly entrenched in the hobby, and I am having a ball. I went to XPRS in Black Rock with Keith and Bob in the fall of 2003, and again was dazzled. I managed to get my level one Cert in September 2003 on the second attempt, something about a fully reefed 'chute (a rubber band around it) caused my first attempt to fail. I have to say that a big part of my involvement in the hobby is the camaraderie and the helpful attitude of the members of SPARC. Even when I was launching "b's", "c's" and "d's" there wasn't any attitude of "you should be launching bigger rockets." The pressure to progress was mild and could more aptly be called encouragement. Flying rockets was and is enough to be a deeply involved member of the club, it doesn't really matter what size.

Posted by ray at January 3, 2005 1:13 PM

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